CBS and the press conference
On CBS’s 60 Minutes this exchange between Steve Kroft and Lennox Linton occurred:
Steve Kroft: “Do you have to come and live in Dominica?”
Lennox Linton: “No. No. You don’t even have to come to Dominica to get the citizenship. You pay the money from wherever you are.”
Steve Kroft: “Sorta just mail order citizenship?”
Lennox Linton: “Sort of. Something like that.”
There was and is no doubt that Linton agreed with Kroft and did so because he wanted to convey the false impression that there exists no due diligence under the citizenship by investment (CBI) program in Dominica. Linton knew this was a lie because he had previously introduced Joanne Wang to Prime Minister Skerrit to be a registered agent under the EP. Then Linton said proudly and loudly on Q Dominica ran a legitimate citizenship program.
Now no honest person would support any “mail order” citizenship program, and I do not. I do not because no such program exists in Dominica and Linton knows this to be the case. Linton introduced Wang to be a registered agent, not a mail order saleslady. Linton also knows of the many due diligence firms retained by the state, but Linton brushed these aside, and his mail order lie shocked the world. Americans now believe that ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorists are mailing in applications for citizenship to Dominica. Shocking, coming from a man who aspires to be prime minister.
This was 60 Minutes. However, on the 6th day of the New Year 2017, Linton held a press conference in Roseau, Dominica. At this press conference, Lennox Linton, leader of the opposition and political leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), said his party supports the citizenship by investment program. These words were never uttered to Steve Kroft. Then came the flop. Linton said he has serious concerns over the way it is being operated in Dominica. No more “mail order” jab, etc. He instead complained of theft by Labourities, transparency locally and the inadequate use of the funds by the government.
This naked flip flop between 60 Minutes on January 1, 2017, and the press conference on January 6, demands answers to specific questions. Why did Linton cow to Kroft and agree that our program is like a mail order transaction? Was he incompetent, intellectually slow, or deliberately dishonest?
Why did he not tell Kroft that he and his party re-engineered the citizenship program between 1995 to 2000 and that, on January 27, 2000, the Economist scathed the UWP’s ECP in a report entitled “Dominica’s white-jumbo airport”, and the State Department condemned it in a report dated March 1, 2000
Why did Linton not tell Kroft that he and his party now support the CBI program but that they had what may be described as localized concerns’? Instead Linton dishonestly painted our CBI as a mail order business. By this single utterance Linton has put the nation’s finances and future at very serious risk.
In my view, Linton’s actions, omissions and spoken word portray a pathological ability to blow with the wind, to find a political spot in the sun. He said at his press conference the CBI has become a “source of Labour Party election campaign financing and wealth creation for a select few people”. Not one fact or name was provided. This is vintage Linton. He creates and paints a story on thin air and gives it smoke and mirrors on radio and social media.
This game produces no fact. The people have a right to know the facts, and which Labourite has plundered the CBI or ECP or benefitted illegally or corruptly from it. We need details: dates, amounts, paper trail, etc. This, not lies, is in the public interest. Linton must therefore have the guts to back up his allegations with facts. He must stop this mepuis and scandal mongering. He must stop the clown act. This is very serious business.
Lennox Linton, as the leader of the opposition and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has a fiduciary and legal duty to tell the nation and world with facts and evidence how the Labour Party siphons off funds from the CBI (an allegation he made against Pinard Byrne and was condemned by the courts) for campaign purposes. He must provide proof of the theft or plundering of the ECP and CBI and the paper trail.
This pathological tendency Linton has of spitting out generalities is a disservice to this truth to power slogan he wears as a badge. It’s a fraud on the public interest, and betrays the right of the people to know fact and not fiction. The time has come for Lennox Linton to put up the facts, hard core facts, or shut up!
Further, Linton painted the broad brush of transparency, yet he advances no recommendation, if any, which makes sense. But he knows better. I am aware that a few days or weeks ago, Lennox Linton met with the financial secretary of Dominica to discuss the CBI. Linton is the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament with the right to ask questions of government’s revenues and expenditure. He has met with the former director of audit, one on one, and the director of audit with the financial secretary.
Further, at every budget debate the prime minister gives a detailed report of the citizenship programs including the funds raised and expended. Our budget debates are broadcast live. The names of persons granted citizenship are published in the Official Gazette. This stopped for a period when control moved from one ministry to the next. But this has now continued under the CBI Unit.
The head of the CBI Unit, Ambassador Nanton, has said the intention is to ensure that all names of persons granted citizenship in the earlier gap will be published. However, the CBI Unit has published the name of every person granted citizenship last year. But Linton’s response in the fact of the facts is to again complain in generalities. At his press conference, he said this:
“I speak to the media locally, regionally and internationally because complaints about a lack of accountability and transparency and the dangers of a CBI program without integrity to global security have fallen on the deaf ears of a stubborn, incorrigible government.”
Thirdly he stated that Dominica has a “moral obligation” to responsible behaviour towards global civilization:
“Dominica, thirdly, has a moral obligation to responsible behaviour for the advancement of global civilization,” Linton stated. “It has absolutely no right to engage in behaviours that endanger the security of other countries on the excuse that such behaviour is driven by economic necessities.”
What on God’s Earth does Linton mean? What complaints? Who made these complaints other than Linton, Fontaine and the United Workers Party? In addition, Linton throws out this: “It has absolutely no right to engage in behaviours that endanger the security of other countries on the excuse that such behaviour is driven by economic necessities.” No specifics or particulars were provided at all.
Bear in mind that, since the assumption of the prime ministership of Dominica by Roosevelt Skerrit, no critical report, advisory or sanction has been issued against or imposed on Dominican by any foreign government. The only time Dominica was criticized by the US, and visas imposed by Canada, was because of actions and failings by Linton’s own political party led by Edison C James between 1995 to 2000. So again, without any facts, we look to the skies for them to drop from the heavens.
I am also concerned about this Linton look into the crystal ball CBI threat to other countries including the United States. Let’s take the USA. Linton seems deeply concerned about America. So am I. But how will this alleged threat pan out? Dominicans need visas to enter the United States. And, to get a visa you have to travel to Barbados. What then happens? You can rest assured that the Americans thoroughly vet every application for a visa.
The alleged sales of diplomatic passports
The lies are transparent.
The first is that King, Lap Seng and Allison were on the run as alleged by Linton on CBS, Q95 or on Caribbean News Now
. This is false.
Rudolph King was never appointed ambassador or given a passport. He was not wanted by the US in 2005. The first report of any detention or arrest was 2007. Despite these facts, Linton carries on his insane lie.
Lap Seng was not wanted or arrested until 2015 or 2016. By this time the government’s relationship with Lap Seng had ended since at least 2010. How the fact of Lap Seng's arrest several years after the last interaction amounts to a sale of a passport is mind-boggling. In fact, Lap Seng has residences in America and traveled freely until his arrest for something wholly unrelated to Dominica.
Diezani Allison's Maduake's case has been dealt with by the prime minister. At the time the prime minister met her there was no forewarning, detention or arrest. In any event her passport has since been revoked by the government. One would think a prime minister under the alleged influence of a bribe would never revoke any passport. No?
The second is Linton’s allegations of the sale of diplomatic passports under the table.
Linton has been singing this song without a shred of evidence. There have been no sales. But what Linton does is to take subsequent events, some which occurred, like Rudolph King and Lap Seng, five to ten years ago, and transformed them with hindsight as transformational sales transactions.
More specifically, Linton has repeatedly alleged that Lap Seng was promised a diplomatic passport if he invested US$20 million in Dominica. There is no basis for this allegation either. But it tells you Linton makes up lies by the day because a passport in exchange for an investment is not a corrupt sale under the table. Nevertheless, like Mr Spock, he beams back in time with the insinuation that because these subsequent events occurred, the passports were in fact sold. As asinine as Linton’s allegations are it leads one to believe that Roosevelt Skerrit has the gift of foresight to predict events in the future.
Further, in view of the basic principles of international law, Linton’s allegation of the sales of diplomatic passports to “criminals on the run” makes no sense either. Diplomatic passports last no more than five years. Also, if you are being appointed to an international organization like the FAO in Italy, the Vienna Convention and relevant treaties require Italy to consent first. If Italy does not consent, the process is at an end.
In any event, the Court of Appeal of the United Kingdom made it clear in the Juffali case that the immunity of a diplomat appointed to the International Maritime Organization or FAO is confined to the institutional functions. The institutional immunity has no application to matters under the local or municipal civil or criminal law. Additionally, as we learnt from the recent arrests involving the United Nations, a state or even Interpol can ask that the sovereign state revoke a diplomatic passport, or waive diplomatic immunity.
In these strict circumstances, only Linton would believe that passports were sold (allegedly) to protect “criminals on the run”. Consequently, a diplomatic passport would have served Corallo no useful purpose whatsoever.
These facts and the basic principles of international law demand I insist Linton comes clean with the “facts”. In 2015, Linton provided no evidence whatsoever to Huffington Post despite repeated questions to do so. Nothing new has come to hand since then. So let me try to assist him. Simply put, a sale requires an event, this event requires the transfer and receipt of a specific sum between two persons, and all of this must take place on a date certain.
Linton must therefore tell us when, how, the details and sums involved in the alleged dodgy sales of passports under the table sales, and he must do so now. If not, his legacy as a pathological liar will be carved in dried mud for all to see for generations to come.
Finally, after all of these fact-less and baseless insinuations at his press conference, Linton concluded by saying all Dominicans, including his constituency Marigot, must benefit “meaningfully” from the “sale of the island’s passport”. Oh? First there is no sale of passports. Secondly, it seems that what Linton is actually saying is that notwithstanding his sensational assault against the CBI, his demand is that the CBI funds must be spent as he, and not the prime minister, sees best.
This suggests to me that once Linton has his hands on the CBI, he will be real cool with the CBI, no longer troubled by the alleged plunder by Labourities or alleged threats. This is in my opinion an extremely odd, if not oxymoronic, position for any bona fide leader of the opposition to have. But the leader speaking is Lennox Linton.
Anthony W Astaphan SC